Check out this gut wrenching first hand account of a street shooting by Chris Sacca.
The basics are, a convicted felon drove into downtown San Francisco just looking to randomly shoot someone. He called over a guy under the guise of asking for directions, the guy came over and the felon shot him.
Now I won’t go into the whole gun control argument that broke out in the comments with the inevitable half-assed metaphors like “guns are like hammers” or “guns are like cars” and insane isolationist paranoia “we need guns to protect ourselves from the gubernment.” Yeah because that worked out so well in Waco.
Instead I wanted to just take a moment and remind people that suspicion can be a very good thing. I don’t advocate walking around in constant fear mind you. But there’s no reason you can’t yell directions to someone from across the street. Generally speaking, when someone random approaches you, you need to have the time and attention to size up their intentions and the potential threat they pose. You also have to have room to beat a hasty retreat if someone has bad things planned for you.
There’s a story I like to tell about one time a couple of years ago. I was sitting in a McDonald’s in one of the booths on the wall. I was diagonally opposed from the door, and there were lots of other people sitting down eating as well. As I’m munching away, a homeless guy walks in and looks around for a second and makes a beeline straight for me. When he got to within about 8 feet, I stood up and asked him what he wanted in a assertive (but not angry or loud) voice.
He immediately put his hands up and faded back and said “whoah do you have any money I could have” I told him no, and then he went off to ask the other customers.
Now you could say I was over-reacting but there were a couple of things here that stood out as weird.
In the part of town I was in, a manager at a McDonalds would usually be all over homeless people asking for money inside the resturant. This was pretty brazen on his part and very unusual.
There were lots of people eating and I was nowhere near the door. Had he started by asking the people closest to him and made his way around, I would probably have not bothered to stand up. By coming straight for me, it made it clear he had singled me out for something, and if that something was bad, I didn’t want to be trapped in a booth while it happened.
I only had a couple of seconds to make a decision on what to do, and in those cases, I’d much rather err on the side of caution and coming off as a jerk, than end up hurt.
We as a society have a social contract, and within that social contract it is completely okay to be treated with suspicion when you approach people you don’t know. The burden is on you to understand that suspicion and do your best to make them feel at ease. Most well adjusted people recognize this and won’t push you or feel bad if you decline.
Another little story:
One night I was driving from Flagstaff to Phoenix and was most of the way home when someone probably 40 yards ahead of me stepped into my lane and jumped up and down waving their arms. I had to swerve into the other lane to avoid hitting them. Why did I not stop?
This person jumped into the lane at the last second giving me little time to react.
They didn’t try to wave me down from the side of the road where I could see them fine. They wanted to force me to stop.
There was no car on the side of the road either before or after them. I usually notice broken down cars since there are usually so few of them.
There were no other people. I looked to see if the person was being chased and there wasn’t anyone else I could see. Now I was going 75mph at the time, so I admittedly had little time to check, but if they were being chased, they would have continued running after I passed, which they didn’t. They stood in the road watching me go.
This wasn’t a deserted stretch of the road. There were a number of buildings within 200ft of the highway, and one of them was a bar that was open. If they needed help or a ride, there were plenty of other options that didn’t involve risking my life by jumping out in front of me.
Could this have been the wrong call? Absolutely. But again, I’d rather err on the side of caution. Especially when someone has already endangered me my jumping out in front of me at the last second.
Just for the record, I’m really torn on the subject of gun control. But arguments that guns are just like hammers, knives, ropes or whatever is just retarded. Guns serve no other purpose than to cause injury or kill. They are explicitly and exclusively weapons, much in the way a sword is. Knives, hammers, axes, etc. serve a variety of meaningful purposes and their uses as weapons are not their primary reason for existing. Also, you’re living in a realm of pure fantasy if you think you can protect yourself from armed services like the police or military with any weapon you can buy or fashion let alone a gun. If we’re going to have an intelligent conversation about gun control, we need to talk about it in honest terms. We want guns to protect ourselves from one another.